This article is Part 3 in a series prompted by my second Saturn return and reflections on a painful turning point in my life. You may also want to read Part 1: Defining Moments, or “How I Lost God and Found My Way” and Part 2: Soul Contracts and Forgiveness.
Part 3: Four Dimensions of Forgiveness
I used to think that forgiveness should come in a flash, in which the whole thing is instantaneously healed. But that hasn’t been my experience. For me, it’s been a process that has unfolded over time and on multiple levels of my being. Here are the four dimensions of forgiveness that I’ve experienced:
- The Wounded Inner Child
- The Rational Self
- The Soul
- Unity Consciousness
These four dimensions span a continuum from the less-conscious (Level 1) aspects of ourselves to the more-conscious (Level 4). However the forgiveness process doesn’t necessarily proceed in a linear fashion, from Level 1 to Level 4. My process has involved diving in here and there, at different levels, at different times. I find it most helpful to move between the layers, interweaving them into a seamless tapestry. All of it is held within the compassionate awareness of Unity Consciousness. Self-love and self-forgiveness are important ingredients, every step of the way.
In my own process, forgiveness in the four dimensions looks something like this:
The wounded 12 year old inside me needed to have a safe place to express her feelings of pain and rage, without holding back. It wasn’t safe to do that with my parents, but eventually I was able to vent those feelings in therapy and through Voice Dialogue Process. My Wounded Inner Child needed to be heard and seen by a non-judgmental witness. I needed to take her out of a dark hiding place within my psyche, embrace her, and let her know that she’s safe. She still holds tightly to some last shreds of fear and resentment. I forgive her for believing she still needs to defend herself in this way. I also realize there are other facets of the Wounded Inner Child that are still crying out for love, and so I continue my healing process.
The rational part of me chooses to forgive because it’s in my own best interest. Forgiveness isn’t meant to excuse someone’s hurtful behavior nor deny that it felt really shitty, at the time. Forgiveness is meant to free me. I want to forgive because holding onto a grievance hurts me. It makes me feel contracted and stuck and closed off from people. It keeps me feeling like a victim…small and powerless. It’s a heavy burden to carry anger and resentment around all the time. I want to let it go.
The rational part of me is able to step back and see my mother from a more neutral, and even compassionate, point of view. I can see and understand the fears and insecurities that drove her angry reaction. I can see that I triggered some of her wounding, and she lashed out at me, unconsciously. A Course in Miracles says that every experience is either an expression of love or a call for love. My mother was having a “call for love”. So was I.
From the level of my soul, I see there is no one to blame, because everything that happened in the story of my “Defining Moment” was part of a soul contract…an agreement between my soul and my mother’s soul. I am grateful that my mother played her part so beautifully. The reason my mother’s proclamation, “You don’t know what you think”, triggered me so deeply, is because it struck a nerve. “I don’t know what I think” was a false belief that my soul came here to unravel. I needed that false belief brought to the surface of my awareness so I could investigate it and come to realize that it’s not true. I do know what I think. I can trust my own perceptions. I can share my point of view with authority…my inner authority. Even at 12 years old, I was guided by a trustworthy inner knowing.
Words are inadequate to describe the experience of Unity Consciousness. Therefore, it is challenging to describe my experience of forgiveness, at this level, without it sounding abstract or merely philosophical. Yet, Oneness is truly an experience, not a concept. As I continue to awaken and experience life, more and more, as the experience of Oneness, there is no longer a completely solid and separate “me” and a completely solid and separate “other”. Oneness means that, despite all appearances to the contrary, there can never be two separate beings in conflict with each other. There is just one thing going on.
As it says in The Way of Mastery, “Each relationship or each moment is a ‘holy encounter’ because there is only wholeness showing up as that One thing. Existence is not really two beings coming together and having an experience. There is only the One Thing, which is the experience of itself.” All appearances of separation and conflict dissolve. The whole drama is seen to arise within, and dissolves back into, unconditional love. Who is there to be blamed?
Within the vast, open, spacious awareness of Unity Consciousness, all things are allowed to be as they are. The Wounded Child is embraced with compassion and presence. She is seen and felt. No need to resist or fear her. No need to fix or change her. Simply being present with her.
My whole drama is a wave of energy, arising and falling away, in the ocean of Oneness. All is forgiven. There’s nothing to forgive.
As I share my process with you and describe it in terms of these four dimensions, please keep in mind that it’s a fluid, organic process, and I’m still in process. It’s not a 1, 2, 3, 4, step-by-step process, and it’s not an intellectual process. It is experiential, and the experience moves through my emotions and thoughts, as well as through more subtle and intuitive aspects of my being. Last but not least, remember that the forgiveness process calls for a generous dose of self-love and self-forgiveness. Be gentle with yourself.
Please leave a comment and let me know what has been sparked within you, by my description of the forgiveness process and these four dimensions.